What is Sankofa?


/san koh fah/

Before we go into the meaning of our business name, Universal Sankofa, we first want to break down the meaning of “Sankofa”.

So….what is Sankofa?  Sankofa is a word in the Twi language from the Akan tribe in Ghana.  Sankofa translates to “Go back and get it” (san – to return; ko – to go; fa – to fetch, to seek and take).  Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as: “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind”.

Essentially, Sankofa means that you must know your past to know where you are going;  Let the past guide our future; every experience in life should leave you wiser.

Sankofa also has two visual portrayals (see below).  One is a stylized heart shape and the other is a bird with its head turned backwards with its feet facing forward while carrying a precious egg in its mouth.  These visual portrayals of Sankofa are referred to as Adinkra symbols. Adinkra symbols are visual symbols with philosophical and historical significance. There are at least 122 Adinkra symbols originating from the Asantes of Ghana.  These adinkra symbols were originally printed on cloth for Asante royals to wear to important ceremonies. Today, the symbols have global importance and are found on fences, furniture, clothing, sculptures, home goods and much more!

There is also a great movie called “Sankofa”.  We both saw this movie and it was life changing and moving for us.  This was one of the first movies that gave us the drive to recognize, respect and return to our ancestral roots spiritually, physically and mentally.  It was also one of the main motivating factors that influenced Sankofa, co-owner of Universal Sankofa, to adopt the name “Sankofa”. Although we have not made the journey to the motherland, it is on our list and we are working on manifesting that journey.    

Sankofa the movie was made in 1993 and is a captivating historical account of the Maafa, the African Holocaust.  It gives a good look at the loss of African consciousness, loss of identity and the connections between the people of African descent across the world.  If you haven’t seen this movie, please take the time to do some research on how you can view or purchase it (see movie cover below).

In our next blog post, we will discuss the meaning of our business name, Universal Sankofa.

So…how do you see the principle of Sankofa being important to our people?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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